Wolff hints at bigger Mercedes F1 role for D’Ambrosio

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has hinted Jerome D’Ambrosio could take an expanded role, but stopped short of naming him as a potential successor as team principal.

Jerome d'Ambrosio, Driver Development Director, Mercedes-AMG

D’Ambrosio appeared in the Mercedes garage in Bahrain and is present in Jeddah this weekend wearing team kit for the first time.

He is involved in the team’s young driver programme, taking over one of the roles previously occupied by James Vowles before his switch to Williams, and working alongside longtime Mercedes driver management guru Gwen Lagrue.

Vowles was seen by Wolff as a future successor as team principal, and inevitably there have been suggestions D’Ambrosio may now be groomed for that role.

The former F1 driver previously had that job at the Venturi Formula E team, where he worked closely with Wolff’s wife Susie.

Asked by Autosport to clarify D’Ambrosio’s role and whether or not he could be a successor, Wolff indicated the Belgian could take on more responsibilities in the future.

“He's looking after the young driver programme in very close cooperation with Gwen, who has been doing it very successfully over the last few years,” said Wolff.

“With Gwen’s team we are looking at grassroots motorsports from the early stages of go-karts, and this is where Gwen is very active, and he was the one working with James.

“And now within the Brackley structure it’s Jerome who has taken that over, and he's looking at things and there's plenty of plenty of scope with what James did beyond the strategy work. So I see Jerome growing in the organisation, but at this stage, that's his area.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the Team Principals Press Conference

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Wolff revealed he had considered managing D’Ambrosio well before either man made it to F1.

“I have known Jerome a long time, because back in the day when he was in Renault Driver Development, I thought about managing him,” he said.

“So it's 15 or 20 years ago, and then we had a look again at him when he when he dropped out of the programme. So I've known him as a racing driver, but never from the human standpoint, and never from the managerial side.

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“And I think when Susie offered him the option to jump out of the cockpit into a management role, he took it with both hands and they were quite a good competitive duo, and Jerome led it into another year and finished second in the Formula E championship.

“I think he has the know-how of having been a racing driver at a very high level. He was a go-karting world champion. He's been in F1, and on the other side, the skills as a manager.

“So where that will lead him is a question – today it’s at a very early stage. He is just coming in in the driver development part and administrative functions. And we shall see where that goes.”

Additional reporting by Matt Kew

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